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In retrospect, Jungkook realizes how stupid it is to think he’s got Jimin all figured out.

He doesn’t really think that, knows that there’s more to Jimin than he understands. Because Jimin’s a person and people have layers. But a part of him still thinks he’s got Jimin all figured out. Jimin’s a Nice Boy. Jungkook isn’t. It’s simple enough.

Enter KIM BOBBY.

It only takes five meetings for all of Jungkook’s assumptions to go to shit.

 

The First Meeting, where Jungkook doesn’t “meet” so much as he “creeps”

He walks into Dream Bean one afternoon with his sketchbook to continue working on his plan for Professor Kim’s course. One of Jimin’s coworkers stands behind the counter. As soon as she sees Jungkook enter, she huffs and points at a little two-seater table tucked in corner of the shop.

“He’s on break, flirt all you want.”

Jungkook picks his way through a few tables of distressed students and their laptops before he realizes Jimin isn’t alone. A ridiculously good-looking guy sits across from him, the kind of ridiculous that involves a chiseled jawline and defined biceps. He wears one of those tank tops with arm-openings all the way to the hem, showing off the cut of his ribs and the barest glimpse of his abs. Fluffy hair curves over his brow from beneath a purple snapback. He sits slouched back, legs spread, muscled forearms resting on the table. He laughs a lot, and he laughs loud.

He looks like the boys who used to beat Jungkook up in high school.

Jungkook ducks into the nearest empty booth and opens his sketchbook. Jimin hasn’t noticed him. His attention is so fully focused on the other guy that Jungkook doesn’t think ever will.

He’s flirting. It’s obvious from just one glance, and Jungkook takes much more than one. Every move Jimin makes is carefully calculated. The way he runs his hand through his hair, eyes narrow; how he bites his lip, not at all like the unconscious way he does when he’s thinking. He laughs with a hand covering his mouth and his head thrown back. It’s not even directed at him yet Jungkook is enraptured. He can tell the other guy is, too, because his eyes don’t stray from Jimin once. At one point he replaces the Dream Bean hat on Jimin’s head with his own snapback, perched sideways. It makes Jimin giggle.

From one sultry glance to the next, Jungkook is hit with a sudden realization.

Jimin knows.

He’s not oblivious. He hasn’t mistaken Jungkook’s advances for friendliness. Watching the way he flirts, so cognizant of the power he holds, Jungkook finally understands. It’s impossible for Jimin not to have recognized his pathetic insinuations from the start. He thinks about his laughable coffee-pun pickup line and compares it to the meaning laced within Jimin’s hooded gaze. All this time Jungkook thought he had something over Jimin, but maybe it’s been the other way around. Taehyung and Hoseok were right after all. Jimin just isn’t interested.

Because right now, tongue sneaking out to wet his lower lip, gaze so intense Jungkook would shiver to have it fixed on him—that’s what an interested Jimin looks like. Jungkook stuffs his sketchbook back into his backpack and beelines for the swinging door.  

He has never felt like such an idiot in his life.

 

The Second Meeting, where Jungkook almost betrays Stark

Jungkook arrives at the daycare just in time to see a sleek, black motorcycle pull up ahead of him. He doesn’t catch on right away. At first all he sees is the back of the boy sitting behind the driver, pressed close, arms wrapped around his waist. The boy has a nice ass, thick thighs that stand out when he swings a leg around to hop off the bike. As he reaches up to remove his helmet, Jungkook finally recognizes him.

The driver is the same guy from Dream Bean, and he isn’t wearing a helmet. He stays sitting, looking up at Jimin. Something he says sends Jimin into that signature full-body laugh, playfully hitting the guy’s arm. Jungkook looks down at Stark the baby blue moped and feels woefully inadequate.

Jimin notices him after a moment and waves him over. Somewhere between the guy pulling up and Jungkook tripping over the sidewalk on his way toward them, he decides that motorcycles are stupid and he can’t imagine why he ever wanted one.

“Jungkook, meet Bobby,” Jimin says. “He’s your hyung.”

“Hey, man, nice to meet you.” Bobby steps off his bike to greet Jungkook properly.

“Yeah.” Jungkook tries not to sound too bitter, especially because Bobby seems unexpectedly genuine.

“Is that your moped?” Bobby peers over at Stark, parked a few feet away.

For a wild three seconds, Jungkook considers lying. He almost opens his mouth to do it when he remembers that Jimin knows the truth. And he can’t do that to Stark. “It’s, uh, yeah. Mine.”

“That’s cute.” He grins.

Jungkook tries but can’t find even an ounce of mockery in Bobby’s tone. “Thanks,” he says, grudgingly.

“I’ll get going. Call me when you want me to pick you up, yeah, Jiminie?”

 “I will.”

Jungkook’s brief motorcycle hatred doesn’t last long. He feels extra bitter watching Bobby ride away, because Stark can’t fit two people. He’ll never be able to drive Jimin anywhere.

“He goes here?”

“Nah,” Jimin says easily.

Jungkook waits, but Jimin doesn’t elaborate. He feels desperate for prying but asks anyway, “So how do you know him?”

Jimin pauses at the daycare entrance thoughtfully, fingers resting on the door handle. He smiles like he knows something Jungkook doesn’t. “We used to fuck.”

Then he opens the door and walks in without waiting to see if Jungkook follows.

Jungkook freezes, brows furrowing, before it hits him and he jogs inside to catch up. He should have figured it out. Now it seems obvious. “Hey!” he exclaims. Jimin stops by the front desk and asks Yongsun where they want him today, ignoring Jungkook entirely.

“Jimin, you’re with the two-year-olds. Jungkook, they want you in fifth grade.”

Jimin waves his thanks and heads down the hall. Jungkook hates fifth grade; they have the most attitude. He catches up with Jimin and leans close to say, “I thought you didn’t—” A group of younger girls runs by them. He lowers his voice. “—you know.”

“I said ‘not lately.’ I didn’t say ‘not ever.’” Jimin looks far too amused for Jungkook’s liking.

“You said it wasn’t your thing.”

“Not anymore, it isn’t.”

“So before?”

Jimin pats his shoulder in false sympathy. “There’s a lot you don’t know about me, Jungkookie.” Then he ducks into his classroom, leaving a stunned Jungkook behind him.

He tries not to think too hard about Jimin and Bobby as he joins the fifth grade class. He fails, mostly, thinks about Jimin’s secretive smile when he should be handing out snacks, thinks about what came before lately. Thinks too hard about the appreciative way Jimin looks at Bobby.

Thinks too hard about how foolish he must have looked all along to Jimin, who suddenly seems much more like a hyung than before.

Sometime before break, one of the boys approaches Jungkook with hesitant steps.

“Excuse me, hyung,” he says, clutching a piece of paper close to his chest.

“What’s up, Chan?”

“I heard Jimin hyung saying you like art. Do you think you could help me with something?” He looks like his entire emotional wellbeing depends on Jungkook’s answer.

Jungkook ruffles his hair. “Sure thing.”

He takes Chan to a quieter table, squeezing himself into one of the tiny chairs. Chan very carefully slides the sheet of paper over. “I’m trying to draw a puppy but it doesn’t really look like a puppy. I don’t know how to fix it.”

The work is remarkably good for a fifth grader; Jungkook can see he has talent. For the next fifteen minutes he helps Chan with his sketch, explaining techniques in the simplest way he can. Chan grows visibly more confident as they talk. Seeing him draw with more assurance after so brief a conversation makes something in Jungkook spark with warmth. He feels accomplished. Like he did something worth doing.

“Is this what you’re in college for?” Chan asks after he grabs his water bottle for break and joins Jungkook at the door.

“I’m studying art, yeah.”

“How come?”

“I love it.” The words spring to his lips so easily. He wonders why he couldn’t say them to Professor Kim.

“Me, too. I want to be an artist like you.”

Jungkook smiles. “I’ve still got a long way to go.”

He hasn’t thought about it in a while, but now he remembers the wonder with which he used to attend elementary school art classes. He used to think art was the coolest thing in the world; he’d wanted to paint since he was old enough to learn he could make a career out of it. His parents thought he would grow out of it, but he didn’t. He drew anime characters across the margins of his notebooks in high school even though it only fueled the mockery, snuck out to spray paint graffiti in the city with Taehyung the night before graduating. He loved art. Loves it. It’s easy to forget that in sight of grades and expectations.

“Do you think you could help me again next week?” Chan asks before Jungkook’s shift ends for the day.

“Course I can.”

He waits for Jimin in the lobby after. When he comes down the hall, Jimin breaks into a grin.

“Something the matter, Jungkookie?”

“Come on, you can’t just leave me with no explanation.”

“I already did.” Jimin stifles a laugh behind his hand as he heads toward the door, Jungkook trailing behind him. “Sorry we can’t study today. Next week, yeah?”

“Yeah,” Jungkook says hopelessly, and watches as Jimin runs to the sidewalk just in time for Bobby’s revving motorcycle to pull up.

Jungkook goes home that evening and catapults straight into Taehyung’s bed when he gets there, which he seems to be doing a lot these days. He shoves Taehyung over to make room for himself, burying his face in his pillow.

“While I’m sure your personal matters are highly important,” Taehyung says, tongue sticking out of his mouth as he lies on his back with his phone held close to his face, “I’m very occupied with beating your high score in Fun Run right now—”

“You’re never going to beat my high score.”

“—so please put your emotions on hold for the next ten minutes. Thank you.”

Jungkook shimmies around until he can stick a hand between them and pinch Taehyung’s side. Taehyung shrieks, fumbling his phone so it falls on his face with a smack.

“I was so close!” he wails, kicking Jungkook’s leg. “How could you?”

He tries to kick him again, but Jungkook maneuvers around to hold his legs down. Taehyung shoves his face away; Jungkook flips him onto his stomach. He pins his hands to the small of his back and holds them there until Taehyung gasps, “Okay, okay, I give in.” Taehyung might be a sneaky little shit, but Jungkook’s always the stronger one. He rolls off and returns to cuddling Taehyung’s pillow. “So what’s the matter with you?”

“Do you know this dude named Bobby?”

“I dunno. Does he go here?”

“No.”

“Then how the fuck am I supposed to know him?”

Jungkook sniffs and curls tighter around the pillow.

“So what about him?”

“He’s really hot.”

“And?”

“He’s friends with Jimin.”

“Ah.”

“They used to fuck.”

Taehyung whistles. “How hot is really hot?”

“Really, really hot. He looks like those fuckboys in high school.”

“You’re a fuckboy.”

“No, I’m not,” he mumbles into his pillow. “Fuckboys don’t care about anyone. I care about people.”

“You’re right. Sorry, Jungkookie.” Taehyung’s arm drapes across his back, tugging him close. “I thought Jimin didn’t fuck around.”

“So did I.”

“So what you’re telling me is this Bobby guy is vying for Jimin’s attention.”

“Pretty much.”

Taehyung giggles near his ear. “So are you brushing up on your laundry skills yet?”

“Fuck you.” Jungkook snarls, and shoves his knee into Taehyung’s stomach.

 

The Third Meeting, where Jungkook learns something new

Jimin texts him a few days later, says he’s on his way to the dining hall with Namjoon and Yoongi and wants to know if Jungkook can join. He almost refuses, spends ten minutes thinking of a reasonable excuse. Embarrassment still hovers over him like a cartoon raincloud. Jimin must think he’s such a kid. But in the end he shuffles over to the dining hall anyway. After filling his plates with food, he finds them crowded at a round table by the window. Bobby reclines next to Jimin, the hood of his dark jacket pulled up.

“Hey, Jungkookie,” Yoongi says. It’s a nice change from the usual hey, party boy.  

Jungkook is more than a little peeved that Bobby is with them, and even more that Yoongi speaks to him so civilly. It’s a stark difference from the mistrustful way he first met Jungkook. But he finds it hard to stay peeved when Bobby is awfully friendly and makes a visible effort to include him in every conversation, even when Jungkook gets a little quiet. He might moonlight as a party boy, he still finds it difficult to talk to people he doesn’t really know. Parties are easier. Everyone’s drunk and no one cares if he can’t think of something clever to say.

Eventually Jungkook slips in the question he really wants to ask. “So, you don’t go here, right?”

Bobby shakes his head. “Nah, but I used to. Transferred to Dongguk after a year here. I’m just visiting.”

“Good riddance, too,” Namjoon says, but it’s clear from his smile that he doesn’t mean it.

“You were a menace,” Yoongi adds, deadpan.

“I was not. I was a good kid.”

“Remember that time you moved all the furniture from the tenth floor physics classroom to the roof?” Jimin interjects.

“Listen, I was really drunk. And you helped.”

“But it was your idea.”

“The good old days,” Yoongi says sarcastically. “Back when Jimin was an even bigger menace.”

“Hyung? A menace?” Jungkook can’t quite mask the disbelief.

“He wasn’t always like this.” Bobby turns a grin on Jimin, who pouts. “He used to be kind of fun.”

“I’m still fun.”

“He used to be kind of like you.” Yoongi’s thoughtful gaze rests on Jungkook.

“What happened?”

And suddenly everyone looks uncomfortable. Namjoon and Yoongi look to Jimin, and Bobby clears his throat. Jimin’s the only one who doesn’t look fazed. He just shrugs and winks.

“Don’t worry about it, Jungkookie.”

But that only means Jungkook absolutely, definitely, positively has to worry about it.

 

The Fourth Meeting, where Jungkook has regrets

He walks into Dream Bean to find Bobby sitting at the counter Jungkook usually inhabits, watching Jimin make coffee with a stupidly handsome grin on his face. At this point, coming to the coffee shop to work is habit; he hardly even thinks about whether or not Jimin will be there. And Jungkook likes sitting at the counter. That’s his spot. He’s not about to sit anywhere else, even if Kim Bobby’s taken his spot. Granted, he sits on the tables just as frequently, but that’s not the point.

So he stubbornly marches over and sits down right next to Bobby. They greet him cheerfully. Jimin doesn’t even bother asking for his order, just rings it up and starts making it.

“So what are you working on?” Bobby leans over to look at his sketchbook.

“Uh, a project. For my studio class.”

“Jiminie says you’re really good at art.”

He looks at Jimin, who catches his glance and crosses his eyes in response. Jungkook smiles. “I’m okay.”

Jimin hands him his drink within a few minutes and whisks away Bobby’s mug for a refill. He takes care of a few customers before returning with the coffee. This time he hovers near them, resting his arms on his head and arching his back into a long stretch. Then he rubs at his neck, brushing aside his collar to reveal a stretch of smooth collarbone and a hint of his chest. His gaze alights on Bobby, the corner of his mouth curving in a slight smirk, before he returns to the register as a new customer enters.

Jungkook looks down, flustered even though none of that was meant for him.

“It sucks to see him so swamped these days,” Bobby says. “Two jobs, volunteering, dance. It’s gotta be rough.”

The words slip from his mouth before he can stop them. He regrets them before he finishes. “What do you care? You just wanna get in his pants.”

Bobby turns to him, brows raised. “Is that what you think?” He shakes his head, holding up his hands. “Listen, it’s not like that.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“I’m not that kind of guy. I like him. A lot.” And the way he looks over at Jimin, eyes gentle, Jungkook knows he’s telling the truth. “I wanna say I’m offended that you think I’m like that. But I’m glad Jimin has friends like you to look out for him.”

“Right,” he mumbles. “Yeah.”

He wraps his hands around his mug of coffee, the heat searing through his skin. If Bobby isn’t that kind of guy, then that means Jungkook is.

 

The Fifth Meeting, a coincidence

Jungkook spends so many hours working on Professor Kim’s project that when he leaves the arts building, he’s surprised to find night has already fallen. With the bundle of material he’s been using to plan the project tucked under one arm and his backpack weighing down his shoulders, he begins the long trek back to his apartment. Weariness settles in his bones, but the draft is coming along so well he can’t complain.

Just past the library he sees Bobby walking in his direction, carrying Jimin on his back. Jimin’s arms dangle loosely over Bobby’s shoulders, and his face presses into his neck. His eyes are closed, lips brushing skin. Jungkook wonders what it would feel like to have Jimin’s breath tickle him like that. He shivers just thinking about it.

The last thing Jungkook wants to do is talk to Bobby after their recent conversation, but the latter stops right in front of him. He nods to him in lieu of waving, his hands busy holding Jimin’s legs around his waist.

“Is he okay?” Jungkook asks.

“He’s just tired. You know how he is when it comes to dancing. He just won’t give himself a break.”

Jungkook doesn’t know that. He wishes he did. But it turns out he doesn’t know much about Jimin at all. “Oh.”

“He probably would have kept going if I hadn’t dragged his ass out of the practice room.”

“I’m gonna be the best,” Jimin mumbles, so quiet and sleepy Jungkook hardly catches it.

“Go back to sleep, baby,” Bobby says. The tenderness in his voice, the affectionate way he hoists Jimin more securely on his back, makes Jungkook’s stomach churn. Suddenly he feels empty. “How’re you gonna be the best if you don’t rest, huh?”

Jimin mumbles something else but it’s incoherent to both of them.

“I’m gonna take him home. I’ll catch you around, Jungkook.”

“Yeah. See you.”

Jungkook walks the rest of the way home slowly. He’d felt accomplished after spending so much time developing his project. Now he feels lost.

When he gets back, Taehyung takes one look at his long face and says, “Wanna go to a party tonight? I can ask Hoseok hyung if anything’s happening.”

“You know, partying doesn’t actually make me feel better.”

Taehyung looks appalled, eyes wide and confused. “What do you mean it doesn’t make you feel better?”

“I’m not like you and Hoseok hyung. I know it helps you guys destress, but not me.”

“Then why do you always go out when you’re upset?” Taehyung whines like Jungkook’s just betrayed him in the worst way. It’s a little funny but also not, because Jungkook feels like he’s betrayed them both by admitting it.

“I dunno,” he mumbles. “I just do.”

But that’s a lie. He does know. It’s because it seems like the right thing to do, even if it isn’t. Because sitting at home and playing video games to cheer himself up is something high school Jungkook would have done, and he doesn’t want to be anything like high school Jungkook. He’s spent too long trying to erase him.

 

That’s the last time he sees Bobby.

Stark’s brakes begin acting up again, so he takes him to the auto shop with a cup of coffee just in case Jimin’s working. One of the other mechanics stands behind the counter. Once he checks in, Jungkook asks, “Is Jimin hyung around?”

“He just stepped out back.” He gestures to a side door.

Jungkook moves toward it hesitantly, glancing back for approval. When the man nods, he slips out. Jimin’s small figure crouches at the edge of the parking lot, orange hair bright against the dark cars on either side of him. He looks so vulnerable like that, shoulders hunched, tracing aimless shapes in the cement with a broken stick.

Jungkook approaches carefully, caramel macchiato in hand. Jimin doesn’t notice him, engrossed in his actions.

“Jimin hyung?”

Jimin glances up, startled, mouth open. “Jungkook? Where’d you come from?”

“My moped needed some work. Hyung, are you okay?”

“I’m on break,” he says, as if that answers it.

Jungkook lowers himself down next to Jimin, crossing his legs. “Here.” He holds out the coffee like an offering.

Jimin takes it, peeking under the lid. “My favorite. How’d you know?”

“I figured it would be something disgustingly sweet with hardly any coffee in it at all.” Jungkook doesn’t have any room to talk. Bitter coffee makes him cringe; he’s grown accustomed to Americanos out of forced habit.

“Are you trying to say I’m a wimp?”

“A coffee wimp.”

“Hey!” Jimin exclaims, but he’s smiling now, and that’s an improvement. He smacks Jungkook’s arm.

Jungkook flails dramatically, flopping back to the ground with his legs bent in an awkward position. “Fuck, you got me. You’re, like, stronger than Iron Man.”

“Jeon Jungkook, shut up.” But he’s laughing, looking a little brighter than before, and Jungkook just grins from his vantage point on the ground.

Jimin sobers.

“Bobby asked me to be his boyfriend.”

Jungkook sits up. His gut swoops, sinks all the way to his feet. He looks down at his hands, clenching tightly into fists. It’s always going to be like this. Even if he thinks he’s different now, he’s not. Someone’s always better.

“I said no.”

Jungkook glances up. Jimin doesn’t look at him. He remembers the first time he ever saw Jimin, turning down that girl’s invitation and dropping his head onto his book like it was the end of the world.

“The worst part is that I actually like him.” Jimin’s laugh is bitter.

“Then why’d you say no?” He waits for Jimin to give him the usual excuse, that he has no time. But Jimin opens his mouth to answer, then closes it.

“I just can’t,” he finally says. He stands up. “Come on. They’re probably looking for you.”

Jungkook can’t do anything but follow.